5 Worst USC football head coaching hires of all time

We count down the five worst head coaching hires in USC football history.
UCLA v USC / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages
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With a program as storied as USC football and with a fan base as passionate as the Trojans have, there will always be plenty of opinions about the man running the show. That's been true in lean times and in days of plenty.

What's amazing about the USC program, though, is that of the 26 men to have held the title of head coach, 19 have posted winning percentages over .600. Of course, it helps when some of the best head coaches in the history of the sport such as John McKay and Pete Carroll have patrolled the sidelines at The Coliseum.

Still, there have been some men who didn't live up to the standard that USC expects. So let's take a look at the five worst coaching hires in USC football history.

No. 5 Lane Kiffin (2010-13)

Just because someone can coach, it doesn't make their hiring a good decision. Such was the case with Lane Kiffin who took over at USC in 2010 and was allegedly fired on the tarmac at LAX in 2013. In between was a string of poor decisions and controversies that drug the program down.

Overall, Kiffin's record at USC was not bad. He went 28-15 (0.651) and had a 10-win season in 2011 despite being on NCAA probation.

A former assistant at USC under Pete Carroll, Kiffin hadn't been on the job for six months before the NCAA slapped the program with a two-year postseason ban for violations committed during Carroll's tenure. Obviously, that didn't help Kiffin get off on the right foot.

Still, he did a good job in those two years going a combined 18-7 overall. However, the 2012 season was when things started to fall apart. Despite being ranked No. 1 to start the year, Kiffin's team would go just 7-6 and finish unranked, the first time since 1963 that a team started the season ranked No. 1 but finished outside the top 25.

In 2013, he was fired just five games into the season after a 61-42 loss at Arizona State dropped his team to 0-2 in PAC-12 play. That firing was one of the most talked about coaching moves in college football history given that it supposedly happened on the airport runway.

What makes the Kiffing hiring an awful decision, in hindsight, is that giving the reins of the most popular football program in America at the time, one that entertained celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Will Ferrell with regularity, to a 33-year-old coach who already had tons of baggage was lunacy. What's more, in a time when the program was dealing with NCAA sanctions, a steady hand at the wheel was needed, not a brash, arrogant coach in his early 30s.

Even Kiffin later admitted that his ego played a role in his failure.

"I had a very large ego," he told ESPN last fall. "Kids who are given too much, too early sometimes -- you see it in actors all the time. Sometimes you're not ready for all that. I wasn't ready at 31 to be the head coach of the Raiders, 32 at Tennessee, 33 or 34 at USC. I wasn't ready for all that fame and that money. Some of that is my fault."